Saudi forces arrive in Turkey to participate in joint military exercises

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Saudi troops arrive in Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast to participate in a multinational military exercise. SPA
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The exercise is a multinational operation and is thought to be one of the world’s biggest. (SPA)
Updated 29 April 2018

Saudi forces arrive in Turkey to participate in joint military exercises

  • The exercise is considered among the biggest war games in the world in the number of participating forces
  • Turkey was the guest country in AFED 2018, a major Saudi defense expo organized early this year

RIYADH: Saudi and Turkish military personnel have joined hands with a large number of military units from friendly countries to hold an international defense drill in Turkey.

Saudi troops have already arrived in Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast in a major move to impart training to the armed forces of the participating countries and to exchange experiences in combined and joint operations, including logistics and command control.

“The exercise is a multipartite and multinational military drill, which is considered among the biggest military exercises in the world in terms of the participating forces’ number and the diversity of the nature as well as the fields of the exercise,” said a SPA report quoting Rear Admiral Pilot Khalid bin Hussein Al-Assaf, military attache at the Saudi Embassy in Ankara on Sunday.

Erdogan Kok, Turkish ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News on Sunday: “I welcome the participation of Saudi troops in EFES 2018... this major military exercise with our friends and allies will help to exchange and share military experiences besides providing training for coordination in multi-nation joint defense operations.

“Being two important countries of our region and the Islamic world, Ankara and Riyadh closely work together toward preserving regional peace and security,” noted Kok, referring to relations between the two countries in sectors including defense. 

The envoy also said: “Turkey was the guest country in AFED 2018, a major Saudi defense expo organized here early this year.”

He said the strategic ties between Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the fields of defense and military cooperation are flourishing. 

Kok pointed out that “Turkey has developed its own defense industry that spans all military activities on land, at sea and in the air.” 

On a bilateral level, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have deep-rooted historical and cultural ties. They enjoy excellent relations in all fields and the two countries also closely cooperate in multilateral platforms. 

In this context, cooperation at the level of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as well as at the High-Level Strategic Dialogue mechanism, which Turkey established in 2008 with the Gulf Cooperation Council, stand out in particular.


Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

First prize winners of this year’s tournament came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 41 min 28 sec ago

Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

  • First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW

RIYADH: Baloot, a card game similar to bridge, has developed from a traditional game — usually played at family gatherings — to an online game for your mobile phone.
The Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports launched in Riyadh the third baloot tournament, which has attracted more than 18,000 participants including 40 female teams. The total prize money is SR2 million ($533,234).
The third baloot tournament showed an unprecedented number of players this year, bolstered by the participation of female players.
First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. Second prize winners received cash prizes of SR500,000 and third place players won SR100,000.
The electronic version is now more popular among Saudis than the original, which requires at least four players.
“The main feature that these baloot apps provide is that I can play the game anytime and anywhere, I don’t need to wait until I find three more people to complete the team,” said Saad Al-Amri, an undergrad student from Abha. “I also don’t lose control as I sometimes do when I play it with my relatives,” he added.
However, Al-Amri admits that playing baloot online made him more addicted to the game, saying that some days he spends 3 hours playing.
Baloot apps are not new and the market continues to grow. Apple’s App Store boasts over 30 Baloot apps. In Android’s Google Play store, the number of apps is even higher, ranging from platforms for playing the game, to apps that teaches the rules, to calculators that help users track their scores in the traditional version.
On top of the list of apps are two famous versions called “Kammelna” and “Baloot VIP,” with both reaching over 1 million downloads.
There are other apps that are less popular but also have strong downloads figures. “Tarbeeat Baloot” and “iBaloot” have just over half a million and 100,000 downloads respectively.
According to the website of “Kammelna,” a Saudi app, they started working on it in 2008, and currently have more than 1 million subscribers, with an updated ranking list for the best 100 players published daily.
Baloot apps can charge paid subscriptions, ranging from monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually. Some apps sell points to customers who can replace them with special features in the game.
Subscriptions start from around SR30 per month, giving users additional features such as access to a special playing room and the ability to start private conversations with other players. Some apps have unique tournaments to encourage users to compete with each other and win points that they can use in future games.